Honorable Supreme court with a majority of 2:1 today upheld the central government’s plan for the construction of the Central Vista project and the government’s proposal to construct a new Parliament in Lutyens’ Delhi.
A three-judge Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and Sanjiv Khanna pronounced the judgment, with Justices Khanwilkar and Maheshwari forming the majority, and with Justice Khanna pronouncing a separate judgment.
The bench had on 5 November 2020 reserved its verdict on the validity of the Central Vista project that envisages redevelopment of 86 acres of land in Lutyens’ Delhi.
The majority noted that there was no infirmity in the grant of no objection by the Central Vista Committee and Heritage Conservation Committee.
Approval was granted by Delhi urban art commission as per the DUAC (Delhi Urban Art Commission) act 1973 was also considered in conformity with the act.
The Supreme court further holds that the exercise of power by the Central Government under section 11a(2) of the DDA act 1957, is just and proper and modification regarding in land use of or no. 2 to 8 in the master plan of Delhi 2021 zonal development plan for zone C and zone D vide impugned notification dated 20.3.2020 stands confirmed.
The supreme court also upheld the recommendation of EC by the Expert Appraisal Committee and grant thereof by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change.
The court also approved the exercise undertaken by the central government in charge of land use of the Central Vista project’s master plan 2021 is legal and valid. The Bench directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to install smog towers in future projects, particularly in those cities where pollution is an issue. During the construction, smog guns must be used.
While pronouncing the judgment court deposed all the pending petitions on the matter.
On December 7, the Supreme Court had allowed the Central Government to conduct the Foundation Ceremony of the Central Vista project without altering the status of the site in any manner. However, the construction activity was not stopped.
While delivering judgment the Supreme Court had slammed the Union for going ahead with the construction works of the project even when the judgment on the pleas was awaited.
Opinions of Justice Khanna
The Supreme court directed the Central government would put on public domain on the web, intelligible and adequate information along with the drawing, plans, layout, etc. within 7 days.
The public notice would also notify the date, time, and place when public hearing, which would be given by the Heritage Conservation Committee to the persons desirous of appearing before the said Committee. No adjournment or request for postponement would be entertained. However, the Heritage Conservation Committee may if required fix additional dates for the hearing.
Objections/suggestions received by the Authority along with the records of BoEH and other records would be sent to the Heritage Conservation Committee. These objections would also be taken into consideration while deciding the question of approval/permission.
In the separate judgment given by Justice Khanna, he said that the project was “bad in law” in terms of land use mainly due to two reasons:
- There is no intelligible disclosure of public participation.
- and, There is no prior approval of the Heritage conservation committee.
The Centre has defended their decision in the Supreme Court to construct new Parliament as well as many other government offices. Central government’s counsel argued that:
- The areas are overcrowded and could not support the requirements.
- The existing parliament building is old and does not conform to fire safety measures.
- It is also said that the Parliament building’s electrical and AC systems are outdated and unsafe while other government buildings do not have enough capacity to support the staff and several types of equipment.